If you’ve been running your online business for a while, it’s likely you’ve received a ton of launch emails with subject lines like…
“Hurry, only 24 hours left until the cart closes”
“Tick tock…one hour to go…”
“Almost sold out – just 2 slots left”
Or maybe you’ve suddenly felt the urge to buy a product you really didn’t need on Amazon because the listing told you there’s only one left. This is scarcity and urgency in action.
Most online business owners are familiar with the importance of scarcity and urgency to boost conversions. If you give your prospects an excuse to procrastinate, it’s likely they won’t buy now (or at any point in the future).
But when you impose a deadline or limit availability, this compels buyers to take action in order to avoid missing out. Fear of loss is a HUGE motivator for all humans. In fact, it’s one of the most powerful determinants of human behaviour. We’re all hugely influenced by our fear of loss or missing out.
Which is why limiting availability or imposing a deadline can boost sales conversions by as much as 330% versus making offers with no deadline or supply limit at all.
Of course, this is way easier to implement if you sell physical products OR if you sell tickets to in-person events. The very nature of these items means that supply and access are limited.
A major challenge arises when you sell digital or infoproducts like E-books, online programmes or tickets to virtual events. That’s because there’s virtually no limit to the number of units you can sell.
Your buyers will sniff out instant BS if you try to claim your Free E-Book is about to run out of virtual copies.
It’s why we often see online entrepreneurs using fake scarcity and urgency tactics to ramp up their sales conversions. And sure, these strategies work. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be so common-place in the online marketing world.
Trouble is, when you create fake anything (whether it’s fake promises, fake scarcity, fake urgency, fake results etc) you lose credibility and erode trust. You might generate a spike in short-term sales BUT your audience will no longer believe you when you impose deadlines and access limits in future campaigns.
It’s why it’s crucial to deploy scarcity and urgency in your sales messages with caution AND integrity.
Which is what I want to talk about in this week’s blog. I’ll dive into some of the biggest howlers I see online business owners make when it comes to using scarcity and urgency in their sales strategies.
As well as some of the best tips and strategies to help you maximise the impact of scarcity and urgency in your marketing, without destroying trust or hurting your long-term relationships.
(If you’d prefer to get this information in audio form, you can also listen to this content via my podcast. Click HERE to download the podcast.)
Evergreen vs Live Launch
Before we dive into the nitty gritty strategies and techniques, I want to start off by looking at the sales landscape from 20,000 ft. If you’ve been running your online business for a while, it’s likely you’re already familiar with the distinction between the launch model and the evergreen model.
But it’s important to clarify the difference between the two as the pitfalls and opportunities differ depending on which strategy you decide to pursue in your business.
Evergreen programmes are those which run continuously. There’s no set cart open or closing date meaning doors are open all the time.
Launch-based programmes are those which have a set cart open and close date. A cohort of students enrol at the same time and complete the programme within a defined timeframe. Launch-based programmes typically open their doors once or twice a year.
Now, many online coaches will try to tell you that evergreen offers simply don’t work. That’s because they don’t benefit from the natural urgency you create when you sell online programmes using the launch model.
The reality is, you can make a lot of sales using evergreen campaigns. In fact, many larger and more established info-product sellers switch to the evergreen model after experiencing launch burnout OR suffering a disaster launch caused by the ever-increasing complexity that comes with a scaled up live launch.
Evergreen campaigns can be as simple or as complex as you want. They can also be extremely effective IF you have a solid flow of new leads coming into your business. AND if you work hard to optimise your evergreen sales funnel to maximise your conversion rate.
But of course there are plenty of issues with evergreen sales campaigns. With evergreen campaigns, it’s much easier to fall into bad scarcity and urgency traps, which are at best embarrassing, and at worst extremely damaging for your reputation.
Scarcity and Urgency for Evergreen Programmes
So let’s start out by diving into some of the biggest scarcity and urgency mistakes online business owners make with their evergreen campaigns and how to avoid them:
1)Pretending there’s a deadline, when there isn’t one
As I mentioned, evergreen programmes are available to buy all the time. This makes it challenging to generate a sense of urgency.
Unfortunately, some online business owners will try to pretend there’s a deadline to buy. OR they pretend there’s a time-limited discount on their full programme price.
But when you re-open their sales page after their offer has ‘expired’ you’ll find that the offer is still live AND you can get your hands on the product any time you like, at the discounted rate.
Cue maximum eye-rolling and a potential buyer who bounces off your page faster than the Easter Bunny on a pogo stick…never to return.
Luckily, there is a way to get around this issue. You can use a piece of software called deadline funnel. Deadline funnel allows you to impose a unique deadline for new leads who enter your marketing funnel.
Let’s say you’re running some Facebook ads to get new traffic into your funnel. Each person who clicks the link in your ad will enter into your deadline funnel with their own individual clock set at, say 5 days.
They might then have access to an evergreen webinar and be entered into an email sales sequence. Each element of the funnel syncs with your new lead’s unique deadline countdown clock.
No matter what device they’re on, or where they are in the world, they’ll see their clock counting down to their deadline.
Once the countdown ends the price promotion disappears OR the offer closes completely and your new lead must join a waitlist or pay full price for your evergreen program.
Deadline funnel allows you to use technology to replicate a live launch campaign, without the stress of live launching over and over again.
2) Not leveraging scarcity and urgency at all
On the opposite end of the spectrum, you might have business owners who feel scared to create scarcity or urgency in their evergreen offers because they don’t want to look like internet shysters.
Their intentions are good BUT by not leveraging the power of scarcity and urgency they miss out on a huge chunk of sales.
That’s because buyers know that your offer is available to buy whenever they like. So, chances are they’ll never take advantage. And your offer will hang in the ether doing pretty much nothing.
The solution: When you sell evergreen info products there are a couple of strategies you can deploy to provide a short term sales boost to an offer that’s going stale.
1. Offer a time-limited discount – Discounting isn’t always the best strategy as it can erode the perceived value of your products. But every once in a while, discounts are a great way to breathe life back into your evergreen offers.
For example, you might run an annual birthday sale to celebrate you or your company’s birthday. During this time you can run a time-limited email mini launch, where you promote your discount until a specified deadline.
Once that date rolls in, the discount goes *poof* and buyers must go back to paying the full price for your programme.
2. Offer a reverse discount – As I just mentioned, offering regular discounts isn’t always the best strategy.
It can train your audience to hang around your email list, waiting for flash sales and special offers. This creates an email list full of discount-hunters who will never pay full price for anything.
I do this with Gap. They permanently offer flash sales and voucher codes. Why would I ever pay full price when I know there’s going to be a sale in 3 days’ time?
So, if you want to avoid creating a list full of discount-grubbers, you can run a time-sensitive reverse discount.
A reverse discount is where you notify your audience that you plan to raise your price on a certain date. If they want to get a great deal before the price goes up, they need to act immediately to save themselves a chunk of cash in the future.
Again, you can run this type of campaign as an email mini-launch, where you build up some momentum and excitement…then close the offer on a predetermined date and time to boost conversions to your evergreen programme.
Scarcity and Urgency for Live Launch Programmes
The primary reason for live launching an online programme is the fact that urgency is built into the model.
There’s a cart open date and a cart close date, meaning there’s limited opportunity to get inside. It’s why so many online coaches swear by live launches to sell their infoproducts, even though live launching can be extremely stressful for everyone involved.
Now, there are ways to live launch with your credibility intact and there are ways to live launch like a bit of a scumbag. We obviously want to avoid the latter, so here are some of the common mistakes online coaches make when ramping up scarcity and urgency during their live launch campaigns:
1) Pretending there are limited spaces available
Many info-product sellers opt to ramp up desire by adding scarcity into the mix.
They do this by keeping class sizes within a set limit. In some cases entry to an online programme is by application only. And some applicants are turned away if the programme fills up before the cart closes.
It’s a great strategy.
Especially if you know there’s high demand for your offer. However, some course sellers set fake limits on their programme intake, knowing they’ll continue to rack up sales regardless of numbers.
They might say things like…
“I’m only making this programme available to the first 15 people to register. And hurry, 90% of places have already been filled.”
This can absolutely boost conversions. It prompts people to take action so they don’t miss out on the last remaining slots. But, imagine how it looks when your programme starts and there are only 5 people inside. What happened to the other 13 people who were meant to be inside? That’s an instant bust.
Or you might decide to breach your intake cap and allow some extra students to sign up for your programme. How would it look when there are 25 people inside a programme that promised only 15 students. Not great, right?
The solution: If you set a limit on the number of people inside your programme, stick to your limit. Often, people are willing to pay a premium for intimate access. You don’t want your buyers to feel short-changed when they don’t receive the access you promised them.
If you’re anxious about missing out on much-needed revenue you could always:
- Place names on a waitlist for the next roll-out of your live launch programme
- Offer a pre-sale discount for your future launch to anyone who wants to sign up for the next round right away. That allows you to lock-in advance sales from hot leads and keeps your customers super happy that they’ve snagged a great deal
And never lie about how many slots you’ve already filled. It’s OK to create a bit of FOMO with a small amount of vague hype like…
“I’ve seen a surge in demand over the last couple of days”
“Places are starting to fill up”
But don’t make out like you’re almost at capacity, when you’ve only sold 30% of your places.
2) Extending Fast-Actions Bonuses
During a live launch, the majority of your sales will come just before cart close. That’s your urgency working for you.
To combat this ‘problem’ many course sellers offer early bird discounts or fast-action bonuses to boost initial sales. This helps to generate FOMO and win some all-important social proof for your offer.
Fast-action offers create an additional deadline earlier in your launch, so you have the opportunity to leverage urgency twice instead of just once.
As the bonus period draws to a close, you can expect a flurry of sales to ring through your checkout, as buyers scramble to get in before the bonuses vanish for good. That’s when things can sometimes start to get sleazy…
The seller might decide to extend the fast-action bonus period for an extra 24-hours to benefit from another influx of sales. This risks ticking off your earlier buyers who jumped in early in good faith. You also destroy your credibility with your Lucy Lie.
The Solution: If you run an early bird promotion at the start of your launch, you must honour the deadline. End your promotion as promised and don’t be tempted to extend for ‘just another 24 hours’.
If you do find that your sales aren’t where you want them to be mid-way through an extended live launch there is another way to create some additional mid-launch urgency.
You can offer a surprise bonus to those who sign up by a specified date and time. Again, you must honour your deadline AND make the bonus available to anyone who signed up during your initial early bird offer.
2) Re-opening your cart at the end of your launch
This little nugget is guaranteed to make me groan louder than a hippo in a mud bath (just not in a good way)…
How many times have you received an email like this:
“I’ve been so blown away by demand that I’ve decided to give in to your request to re-open the cart for the next 24-hours” *eye roll*
Does anyone actually believe the cart re-opening was a last minute decision made out of the kindness of their heart? No chance.
This kind of behaviour might allow you to make a few extra sales, but it does so at the expense of your credibility and your reputation.
The Solution: If you state a hard deadline for your live launch programme, you must stick to it no matter how tempting it is to squeeze in just a couple more sales.
Your audience will thank you for it. And they’ll be more likely to trust you when you launch again in the future.
There’s no doubt that scarcity and urgency are powerful weapons to implement on your mission to higher sales conversions.
Without scarcity and urgency, it can be extremely difficult to convince your prospects to take action now, instead of later (which usually means never). But there are right and wrong ways to do it.
Trust and credibility are essential in online sales. Once they’re gone, they can be practically impossible to win back again in future.
If you enjoyed this blog, you can also listen to the audio version over on my podcast page. Click HERE to download the episode now.
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